08/21/2018 – No matter where I have driven in Owasso this week, I have seen mushrooms growing in the yards around me. They are everywhere! I did a little research to find out why.
It seems we have moved from complaining how hot and dry it is, to griping about how wet and soggy our yards are.
Prolonged rainy weather has left most of us looking at wet and waterlogged yards.
After an extended period of daily or almost-daily rainfall, we typically see mushrooms popping up. This week they are everywhere.
Mushrooms are produced by fungal organisms. Most fungi grow best when there is abundant moisture available like we have had recently.
There is no one particular fungus that is responsible for all the mushrooms we see. A wide variety of fungi produce many different sizes, shapes and colors of mushrooms.
The vast majority of fungi do not cause plant disease and are actually beneficial. Some fungi help protect plants from organisms that would otherwise damage plants. Fungi kill nematodes and insects in the soil that might attack plants’ roots, for instance. There are even fungi that help protect plant roots from pathogenic fungi.
For the gardener, they are vital in the process of turning organic matter into compost. When you incorporate organic matter into the soil of a bed, it is the saprophytic fungi that help break it down into vital humus and release the nutrients contained in the organic matter.
These fungi decay organic debris in the lawn — grass clippings and dead leaves would otherwise accumulate and choke out the grass.
It’s important to understand that the mushroom is not the fungus. It is simply a growth from an organism living in the soil and the layer of organic matter on the surface.
Mushrooms are the reproductive structures, called “fruiting bodies,” of certain fungal organisms. Their role is to produce spores and release them. You can kind of think of them like flowers.
Where you see mushrooms growing relates to the amount of organic matter available to the fungi and where, by chance, spores land and grow. So, you do see variation from yard to yard and area to area in the same yard.
As you encounter mushrooms over time, remember they are generally harmless and can be ignored — again, watch young children and pets. They are a nuisance, not a catastrophe
A rose flower is a product of the rose bush. You can pick and remove the flower, but the bush is still there and will produce more flowers.
In the same way, you can remove the mushrooms you see, but the organism producing them is still there. Simply removing the mushrooms does not keep them from coming back.
So, saprophytic fungi and the mushrooms they produce are not harmful to your lawn or other plants in your yard, and there is no need for concern in that regard.
Because it is remotely possible that some of the mushrooms might be poisonous, in cases where pets or small children might have a chance to consume them they should be promptly removed when they appear.
For everyone else, ignore them or mow them down. Or if you are like me, take a picture or two first 🙂 .